While the world continues to discuss the "future of work," there is one fundamental truth: The value of interacting with someone face-to-face can't be replicated digitally. Whether teams are deciding between a full return to the office, a hybrid or flexible model, or a fully remote plan, the focus is shifting to building a stronger foundation that better reflects the needs of today's employees.
Value of In-Person Interactions at Work
A 2018 article—“The Science of Being There” by Hilton—has definitive conclusions about the importance of in-person interactions at work.
- More than eight in 10 executives prefer in-person meetings to virtual contact.
- Research shows face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than those sent by email.
- 35% of the variation in a given team's performance was explained by the number of times team members spoke face-to-face.
Not All Remote Work Is Created Equal
Google Workspace commissioned a report, “Making Hybrid Work Human,” revealing that "...[S]enior managers... tended to be relatively more pessimistic about the negative impact of hybrid (remote) work on employee engagement and the strain on organizational culture." Despite that, 56% "felt that a lack of face-to-face supervision creates a sense of distrust among managers and employees."
Frontline workers also expressed concern with several aspects associated with flexible work models.
- 62% felt that limited social interactions with co-workers had a negative impact on their mental health.
- 59% felt stressed by the increased monitoring with flexible work.
- 69% felt frustrated by the limited ability to collaborate with their team or others due to flexible work models.
Even teams that have flexible/hybrid models require some of the team to remain in-person full time, and there is a divide between those individuals that can create potential issues with company culture.
Remote Work's Impact
Edelman Data x Intelligence polled Microsoft employees in the 2021 Work Trend Index, noting, "Employees want the best of both worlds: Over 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65% are craving more in-person time with their teams."
The Impact of Isolation on Well Being
Dr. Mary Donohue, the founder of The Digital Wellness Center, says "in-person conversations give our brains a chance to assess things like tone, social cues, and body language to make meaning. But technology can create digital static... and as digital static increases, so does employee fatigue, anxiety, and burnout rates."
Workers Weigh in on Virtual Meetings
Zippia, an online career resource, surveyed 2,000 American workers to find that 67% of workers are distracted during virtual meetings. Over 20% of workers [attending virtual meetings] are frustrated by unengaged coworkers and coworkers with technical difficulties.
An IRL Option for the Modern Workday
For optimal experiences that foster collaboration every day, consider a Convene WorkPlace or Community Membership as an option to bring hybrid teams together. Hosting a meeting? Gather in one of our beautiful meeting and event spaces designed to leverage the power of in-person interaction.